Accessing Healthcare Treatment in Ireland
Accessing Healthcare Services in Ireland
There are two ways of accessing healthcare services in Ireland, either as a public or private patient.
Every Irish citizen or person who is ordinarily resident in the country has access to public hospital services. However, these services are not free and you may be subject to waiting times depending on your medical condition. This can often be the case for certain orthopaedic procedures such as hip or knee replacements. Unless you hold a medical card, you will be charged €100 for all treatment received in a public hospital accident & emergency room and if you are admitted, you must pay €75 for each night in the public hospital up to 10 nights in any 12 month period (€750). These charges apply to children and adults equally. These charges should be weighed against the present cost of private healthcare, e.g. adults can be covered from €515 and children from €250. As the public system comes under growing pressure due to successive cutbacks, many consumers opt for private health insurance cover to ensure that they are in control of their medical treatment.
As a private patient, you essentially bypass the public access route and you engage a GP and consultant privately. However, you must pay for all treatment as you go with GP’s costing between €50-€60 per visit and consultants’ costing anything from €150 - €250 for the first visit. There may be further outlays for additional tests such as x-rays, scans and blood tests before a full diagnosis is made. If hospital treatment is deemed necessary, they will then admit you either to a public or private hospital as their private patient and your health insurer will be liable for these costs (depending on the plan held). As a private patient, you can select your preferred hospital, your consultant, and your accommodation (private or semi-private: no more than 5 beds). As well as covering your private hospital in-patient costs, many new corporate insurance plans also give you refunds on routine medical expenses such as GP, Physiotherapy, Dental and Consultant fees (usually in the region of 50%). Whilst costs vary for in-patient treatments, the cost of a private admission (to a public or private hospital) can be in the region of €1,000 per night excluding consultant fees. Nearly 70% of all procedures are now carried out on a day-care basis but even a day-care admission can result in a bill of €500 - €1,000 depending on the procedure and hospital concerned. All health insurers operate direct payment agreements with the hospitals which means the customer doesn’t have to pay any bills themselves.
Depending on the plan held, all hospital costs may be fully covered by the insurer. Increasingly, consumers are opting for ‘excess-based’ plans in an effort to reduce their costs. These carry excesses of €75 - €500 per admission to private hospitals only and basically, the higher the excess or the risk to the consumer, the lower the premium. With nearly 300 plans on the market, there is ample choice to suit all requirements. However, trawling through all these plans trying to make like-for-like comparisons can be quite daunting. Consumers can refer to the health insurance authority website www.hia.ie where all plans are listed or alternatively, they can seek advice from an advisor specialising in health cover.
Never cancel your cover without considering alternative options first of all. For those considering joining for the first time, you can get a good entry-level plan now with all insurers for under €700 per adult.Back